There was a time in my 1980s childhood when everyone adored Michael Jackson. There were no controversies. His music wasn't an acquired taste. There was no racial division. Little girls stuck oversized pins with his face on their jeans jackets. He was simply the coolest person ever.
This was the "Thriller" era when Michael Jackson pwned the world.
He was a superstar with incredible stage presence and charisma but he was still a human being. He still physically looked like a human being. If you watch the Making of Thriller, he still comes across as someone you can relate to. A young man excited to be where he's at in his life and career.
His Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean" introduced the television-watching world to the "moonwalk", which schoolkids across the nation would soon begin doing poor imitations of...
And then somewhere along the way to "Bad", Michael Jackson became less than cool.
It wasn't any one thing. It was a culmination of oddities. "Bad" was still popular but his attempt at reinventing himself as a tough guy read a bit corny. The Scorsese-directed video and all. Though in hindsight, there's still something endearing about him during those years.
Beyond that, things went downhill.
In death, there is an attempt to idealize him and his legacy. But he's basically doomed to be remembered like Elvis Presley: just like Young Elvis versus Fat Old Elvis, there's Young Michael Jackson versus Freakish Old Michael Jackson.
The One Michael Jackson Article You Have to Read.
Michael Jackson's Children NOT Biologically His.
Unfortunately, the Michael Jackson story is far from over. There's a whole industry of exploitation out there that will continue to churn out a frothy mix of truth and lies about his life and death. Nothing will ever be clear. His life may always be a mystery. And then there are his kids who weren't really his kids... I can't even imagine what they're going to become...